United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez issued the following statement from the union’s Keene, Calif. headquarters following the Trump administration’s announcement proposing new rules that would change the existing H-2A agricultural guest worker program:
Donald Trump and his administration are promising growers more H-2A guest workers and deregulation that would likely weaken pay and protections in the program for both domestic and imported farm workers. But the program is already unlimited in size by law and, in fact, has tripled in size during the last 10 years.
The Trump administration claims the program is “too expensive,” meaning it thinks farm workers should get paid less money.
It appears Donald Trump, who has used H-2A workers on his Virginia vineyards, and his administration are suggesting farm workers in the H-2A program be paid less, further undermining the poor pay and conditions already plaguing domestic farm workers in the United States. Lowering the pay of H-2A workers would mean growers would find H-2A workers even more preferable than hiring domestic workers.
The H-2A program should be called the “harnessed 2 abuse” system because it already ties farm workers to single, specific employers. So when H-2A workers speak out about being abused the growers to which they are tied can make sure it will cost them their jobs, their homes and their visas. The program also discriminates against women farm workers; more than 97 percent of H-2A workers are men.